QUINCY, Florida – Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis joined Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Secretary of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Shevaun Harris, Acting Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE ) Mark Glass and Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young to discuss the recent increase. in fentanyl-associated overdoses.
Following today’s discussion, the First Lady, through the Department of Health in coordination with other state agencies, will issue a nationwide public messaging advisory. state to educate the public about the dangers of fentanyl, now the leading cause of death in the United States. for people aged 18 to 45. The advisory will focus on prevention and recovery resources for overdoses involving synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl. Additionally, state agencies will work together to share available state addiction and mental wellness resources to help meet the needs of communities across Florida, including Gadsden County.
“Too many people are losing their lives to illicit drugs and addiction,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “Fentanyl overdose is the leading cause of death in the country among people between the ages of 18 and 45. It is mainly made in China and crosses our southern border. It is imperative that Floridians know the risks and understand that just two milligrams can be fatal. Stopping drug dealers and helping Floridians overcome the challenges of addiction and prevent overdose deaths is an important priority for all of us.
“I want to thank the Governor and First Lady for their support regarding the public health and safety crisis facing Gadsden County,” said Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young. “It was amazing how quickly the Governor sent some of the top officials to help Gadsden County, such as the Surgeon General, FDLE Commissioner and DCF Secretary.”
“More than 6,150 people died from overdoses involving fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in 2020. While substance use disorder is a chronic condition that requires clinical monitoring, the fentanyl crisis compels us to be all on deck in all communities – and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said General surgeon Dr. Joseph Ladapo.
“Our department is constantly striving to reduce the death rate associated with opioid and stimulant abuse and to increase the number of people who have access to needed treatment,” said DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris. “Through intentional collaboration with our state and community partners, we are working to bring more resources and support to all communities in need.”
“The safety of Florida citizens and visitors is paramount to FDLE, and deadly illicit drugs like fentanyl have no place in safe communities,” said Mark Glass, acting commissioner of the FDLE. “When FDLE conducts drug investigations, our goal is always to bring down the whole organization. We thank Governor DeSantis for his leadership and for signing HB 95, keeping drug dealers in jail longer and ending their drug dealing days.
To help with recovery, DCF will deploy more than 200 Narcan overdose kits and peer support coordinators to the county. Emergency responders can also get Narcan for free through the Helping Emergency Responders Get Support (HEROS) program through the DOH. Under the direction of the FDLE, the strike force will continue to target fentanyl recovery in Northwest Florida. During the first 3 days of operation, the strike force recovered nearly four grams of fentanyl, enough to kill nearly 2,000 Floridians.
The state will also ensure that those found trafficking fentanyl are detained to the fullest extent permitted by law. Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed into law HB 95, toughening penalties for those who sell and distribute opioids. The mandatory minimum sentence for trafficking fentanyl has been increased from 3 years to 7 years for 4 to 14 grams, and from 15 to 20 years for 14 to 28 grams. Earlier this year, SB 544 was signed into law, granting Floridians the ability to go directly to pharmacists to receive Narcan that can be administered in an emergency. Previously, individuals had to go through law enforcement for Narcan to treat overdose victims.
Fentanyl overdoses are much faster and stronger than overdoses of other opioids. Fatal overdoses involving fentanyl have nearly doubled since 2018, due to illicit drugs, including marijuana and heroin, containing fentanyl without the user’s knowledge. Floridians struggling with substance use disorders can visit www.isavefl.com for help.